Yet more toilets of shame

2011-05-23 00:00

YOU are in the city centre and need to answer the call of nature. If you have to use the public toilets in the centre of KwaZulu-Natal’s capital, you should steel yourself for the disgusting reality of Msunduzi Municipality’s public toilets.

Members of the public and the municipal workers who are in charge of cleaning these facilities have complained bitterly about the state of the public amenities.

Said a municipal employee at Freedom Square toilets, “We always complain about the disgusting situation in these toilets, but all they tell us is “we don’t have money”.

“It has been over five years and the situation seems to be getting worse.”

Other public toilets in all nine CBD taxi ranks, including the new rank opposite the Premier’s office, are in bad repair. The doors of many cubicles are locked with wire to make sure that they are not accessible to the public.

The toilets cannot flush as there is no water supply, resulting in an unbearable stench.

The men’s toilets in Freedom Square have six cubicles, but only one is accessible and it is filthy and it appears that it has not been cleaned for a long time. Even the taps are broken.

In the women’s toilets there are only two cubicles accessible and members of the public have to stand in long queues waiting to relieve themselves.

Xoliswa Mkhize, a student at one of the CBD’s private colleges, said that since 2006 she had noticed that the toilets were getting worse.

“I use these toilets every day, and most times I find only one cubicle open and I have to join the queue and wait,” she said.

The toilets smell badly because they have not been cleaned for some time.

The large mirrors on the walls disappeared without a trace in early 2000 because of a lack of security.

A municipal employee told The Witness,“For years we have not been getting a supply of toilet paper and cleaning chemicals. Maybe your intervention will force these officials to wake up and take action.

“It becomes an embarrassment when the city is hosting big events such as the Comrades Marathon because athletes want to use these toilets.

“ When disabled and elderly people are in town to collect their grants they have to come and wait for a long time to use the toilet.”

The Witness was told that the situation is better at the new taxi rank because the taxi association uses its own cleaning company.

However, on inspection even these toilets were found to be in a very poor state.

“Toilet bowls are filled with newspaper and faeces despite the fact that toilet paper is supplied at the entrance of each toilet. A Witness reporter, who went into the women’s toilets, said there was water dripping freely from one of the faulty taps. There were faeces floating in the toilet bowl.

A municipal employee at the underground taxi rank, known as Emgodini, said things seems to be even worse. The smell assaults you from a distance.

“Out of nine toilet cubicles there are only three still working. I have seen adult women breaking and stealing the taps.

“When I warn them to stop it they tell me straight that I must stay away because they are stealing government’s property and it will be replaced with money that they pay through tax.

“If you think this is worse you have not seen anything. Go to the taxi ranks in Retief Street, East Street and West Street and come back to tell me what you have seen,” said another employee.

Msunduzi Mayor Mike Tarr said, “People must understand that if they vandalise and steal public property, they are stealing from their fellow citizens. The government would use more money to repair the damages — money which should be used for service delivery.”


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